White collar crimes, including graft, money laundering, insider trading and tax fraud are commonly equated with theft or burglary, but studies have shown that the psychology of the white collar criminal is very different than that of the standard burglar. Unlike someone who is robbing a bank at gunpoint, white collar crimes embrace a kind of cognitive dissonance. Since the person committing the crime can’t really see actual human victims, it’s harder for them to recognize when they’ve gone over a line.
That kind of disassociation can also continue after they’re charged. Here are some of the most common myths that white collar defendants buy into (to their detriment):
- Anti-corruption laws aren’t being heavily enforced. There’s a widespread belief that the current presidential administration isn’t enforcing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for example, but this isn’t actually true. The Department of Justice has been actively pursuing charges against major companies and individuals alike.
- Companies pay fines but executives don’t go to prison. This also isn’t true. The financial crisis of 2008 brought some permanent changes to how financial misconduct by executive officers is handled. Just ask the 56 bankers and traders that were sentenced to prison for their roles in that particular event.
- Judges are lenient on white collar criminals. If you still believe this, you haven’t been paying attention to the news. Judges have less discretion than ever when it comes to federal sentencing laws. They often can’t be lenient even if they’re so inclined.
- Influential, wealthy defendants have nothing to fear. Again, this simply isn’t so. Federal prosecutors are not gun-shy about using the full extent of their powers to build a powerful case against whatever defendant is in their sights.
If you’ve been charged with a white collar crime or are under investigation, don’t take chances. Find out what our office can do to help with your situation.